Workbench is a Ruby on Rails web application that uses the Arvados Rails SDK to provide a generic interface to Arvados. It exists for two reasons:
- Convenience -- sometimes it's quicker to click than to type, and sometimes it's nice to see progress bars instead of ASCII art.
- Example -- the source code is an example of how to use Arvados and the Rails SDK.
(In a sense, it is the web browser SDK -- but we don't call it that because we don't expect anyone to write an application by scripting a web browser.)
It does not have any special privileges1. Everything Workbench does can also be done with the command line tools or any other SDK.
1 There is one exception: Each site has an official Workbench installation with the privileges required to retrieve a user's API authentication tokens. This is necessary to give users access to API clients that aren't well suited to the OpenID authentication process, like the CLI tools.